The Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver #1
Published by Ember on January 24th 2006
Genres: Classics, Dystopia, Middle Grade, Science fiction, Young Adult
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Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
The first time I read this was for school and I just finished re-reading it. I think I enjoyed it more the second time because I could think about it more in-depth- which is funny because school is supposed to make you do that, but I don’t think I had the tools to do that quite yet.
It seems like your typical dystopia, but I think it’s actually far more controlled than many others I’ve read. Especially speech. It kind of reminds me of 1984. But it’s far less political- and also, we have to remember that we’re seeing it through a child’s eyes. And it’s done great in that respect. It’s like the child’s introduction to dystopia in the form of a literary classic. Anyway, there was so much regulated speech that it was hard to say anything you really meant, or anything important. But other than that- now that I think about it, it wasn’t that restricted. They had to go to school and do volunteer hours at specific times, and meals were pretty regulated, but they could play pretty much where they wanted (within boundaries). So I think speech was the thing that was the most regulated.
But the Sameness was extreme. There was no color, no music, no race- no uniqueness, no differences. There was no lying or hiding anything. There were no choices. But then you have to think about that for a minute. How many kids today wonder and worry about where they’ll end up- who they’ll marry and where they’ll work, and if they’ll be happy? This society took away all of that. They matched people perfectly to a job and a spouse, eliminating any worry or question. It certainly was easier, as Jonas said. But the thing that they were all missing was true emotion. But that brings us to the question that we often have to ask with dystopian lit- is it better to be ignorant and happy or knowledgeable and unhappy? Well, I guess we can amend the latter part of the question in this case- knowledgeable and able to feel the true spectrum of emotions. At the point they were at in their society, they couldn’t really handle the true spectrum, so they designated a job position for it. So that only one, or two (in the case of training) people at a time had to carry that weight and pain on their shoulders. Is this fair? Is this for the greater good? That most people don’t suffer, but only a couple do?
It seems silly. I don’t think the people realized that when they were allowing one person to hold all the memories in order to advise them, they were giving that person so much power over themselves. Knowledge is power. How else would they be able to formulate an escape plan and a plan to return the memories to the people? In the book, the Giver himself didn’t really know where the memories went to, just generally to the people, he thought, but I think we have a term for it in psychology. It is the collective unconscious, and it is inherited through the generations, somewhat like the Receiver receives the memories from the Giver. So when the people started implementing the Sameness, they took away the collective unconscious and put it all in one person. The people didn’t have anything to draw from, no experience, so that made them more easily controlled. That’s why it was decided for them what to say, who to be with and what to do.
Less than perfect:
This was a great classic. It was very thought-provoking, especially from the unusual POV of a child. It was not as political as other dystopian literature, but it didn’t need to be. And the plot was riveting. Would I read more by this author? Probably not. Would I recommend this to others? Yes.